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Subject Topic: Today’s money saving tip - chillers
 
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kyroguy
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Posted: 07 Sep 2008 at 6:22pm | IP Logged Quote kyroguy

Here you go. If you have time and money burning a hole in your pocket, don't read this post. If you live in Alaska and temp is never a problem in your tank, don't read this post.

I have struggled with my Ice Probe chiller for a few years now and determined a few months ago that it is totally useless. In fact, I have figured out that peltier ("thermo-electric") chillers are in general useless for the majority of applications.

The inherent problem with peltier chillers is that they require a low ambient temperatures to work properly. This means that the temp in the room needs to be low or the chiller won't be able to vent properly and thus won't work. Well, the reason my tank was hot was because the room was hot. Well, peltier chillers won't work in a hot room. Compressor based chillers will.

So how do we fix this problem. First, don't ever buy a peltier based chiller. If you have that much money burning a hole in your pocket, send it to me. PM me for my paypal address. Second, go to walmart and spend $5 on a very small desk fan. Something in the 3-4 inch range. I unplugged the Ice Probe and plugged the fan into my heater/chiller controller. Then I used wire ties to suspend the fan over my prefilter pad in the sump. When the temp goes to 80 (1 degree over the preset limit on the controller) the fan kicks on.

In the past (before the fan) I routinely caught the tank at 82-84 degrees on hot days. This is clearly not a good thing. Since the installation of the fan ( a few months ago and through the summer) I have never caught the tank at over 80 degrees. This is with a digital heater/chiller controller, not the old school analog thermometers. The only drawback is that you do go through significantly more topoff water. This should be no surprise since the cooling effect is due to evaporation. I have a RO unit so the extra water is no issue and the cool tank is more than worth it.

Bottom line: Peltier based coolers are utterly worthless. If you must have a chiller (and some applications/environments demand it) then buy a compressor based chiller. Compressor based chillers are becoming more affordable and are available in smaller and smaller sizes. I believe they offer a 1/10 hp now, great for a nano. (don't buy a drop in chiller, buy a plumbed one but that is for a different day) If you are on the fence about a chiller, but a small fan and hook it up. Even if you don't have the controller just let it run. Let the heater take care of it if the temp drops. Up the wattage of the heater a little if need be and you should be fine. If you can afford it buy a controller and an RO unit. It will save you tons in the long run!

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nitrotmann
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Posted: 08 Sep 2008 at 8:38pm | IP Logged Quote nitrotmann

thats basically what i do for the mb7 at work. however, i don't have a heater/chiller controler, other than my left hand that moves the fan around. Is there a very cheap way to build one, that doesn't look as honky as my ABS pipe PC reflectors?

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kyroguy
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Posted: 09 Sep 2008 at 7:10am | IP Logged Quote kyroguy

Cheap way to build a left hand? Hmm.

On the other hand (pun intended) you could just build a new hood and incorporate the fan into it. I helped my brother build one I used to have and it looked great. He is really good with wood though. How are your woodworking skills? I can certainly point you in the right directions with some instructions/tips but it will look like crap if you suck with wood.
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nitrotmann
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Posted: 09 Sep 2008 at 9:21am | IP Logged Quote nitrotmann

i should be building a good looking one in the next few weeks or so, with a buddy thats great with wood.

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nitrotmann
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Posted: 09 Sep 2008 at 9:21am | IP Logged Quote nitrotmann

oh, but how did you make the trim for the bowed top corner?

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kyroguy
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Posted: 09 Sep 2008 at 9:28am | IP Logged Quote kyroguy

We used 1/4 inch oak veneered plywood. We sanded the back few layers off to thin it up a little and then just left it out in a semi humid room for a few hours. It bent to just the right bow on its own.   It actually worked out better than expected. Better have a belt sander though.

I was thinking earlier that I am pretty sure that I still have a pretty big portion of the old JBJ light that I gutted to make my custom light. Have you seen it? Anyway, I would be willing to send you what I have left for just the cost of shipping. I would estimate it to be around $10. The piece (if my memory serves, it is in storage now) is about 30 inches long and is the black outer shell and the inner reflector. The plexi shield may be there too but if you are using halides you will want to replace that with glass. There are no endcaps but you could come up with something. Just saw it to length and install the lights. Drill the back and grommet it to run all the wires. Pretty sweet potential. Let me know.
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nitrotmann
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Posted: 09 Sep 2008 at 11:24am | IP Logged Quote nitrotmann

i've got a reflector with clamps already, but if it doesn't work out, I'll let you know.

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